Cooking is a difficult thing. There’s fire, and most importantly, it takes work and time, two commodities that college students don’t want to spare. Unfortunately eating campus food and pizza isn’t a good idea if your a fan of your intestinal track. With that said, here is some food advice that can keep you fed, keep your wallet full, and keep your dorm from burning down in a bacon-smelling fire.

Eggs

Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Well if you’re starting to cook, start with the eggs. It’s hard to screw up, and you have variety to work with, plus theres an automatic out. Did you screw up that omelet, that sunny-side-up attempt or something? Mash it up. Scrambled eggs! Perfect.

Cheap, protein, quick and healthy enough, eggs can be eaten for any meal and are a staple of any collegiate diet.

Frozen Veggie Burgers

See, this is a smart pick. For the veggie folk, these are all they have for hamburgers. Let’s have a moment of silence for them.

Okay. Making fun of vegetarians aside, veggie burgers have one- and only one- advantage for hamburgers. They are a breeze in college. You can throw them in a microwave with cheese and top with barbecue sauce and pretend it’s a hamburger. Or better yet, you can put them in a skillet with oil to cook them better. Then you have practice cooking and you don’t have to worry about salmonella or anything. You get food. Not bad.

Yogurt, Hummus, etc

Okay, so this isn’t cooking, really. But that’s exactly it. You don’t want to be cooking all the time, and so any of the easy alternatives- yogurts, hummus, cold-cuts and peanut butter- have got to be stocked at all times. Rotate them so you aren’t sick of them and you can really stretch out your cooking needs.

Pasta

Oh Pasta. You know this one already, or you should at least. Macaroni and cheese is a classic and for good reason. But you can mix this up fairly well and easily. For example, grocery stores often sell fancier pre-made pasta. It’s pretty cheap, maybe four or five dollars, and it’s as easy to cook as mac and cheese. And for the extra few bucks, you’re eating real food for the same effort. Nice deal.

A Really Impressive Meal with More Impressive Friends

This is the biggest trick of the trade. You can’t cook. That’s fine. But maybe your friends do.

Suggest something easy, casual. Hamburgers, fries, salmon, whatever. Roll by with a six-pack or a bottle of wine, or, on a lower budget, offer to buy the potatoes. Mention how you’ll help them cook.

See, this is the best plan. You get to hang with your friends, learn to cook, and still have a much, much better meal than eggs. It’s cheaper than a restaurant and easier than cooking yourself, and a secret of the trade? Bringing a six-pack means you can have two of those beers yourself. It’s just a win win.